University of Western Sydney hands out 11k iPads
All students and staff to fondle slabs in ‘blended learning’ plan
Every new student at Australia’s University of Western Sydney (UWS) will be given an iPad next year.
Founded in 1989, UWS has six campuses spread across Western Sydney, a sprawling region characterised as the working-class heart of the city, as opposed to the more affluent coastal suburbs. The university is probably not many new students’ first choice: the Sydney University, Macquarie University and the University of New South Wales are all older and – whether or not they are deserved - have weightier reputations.
That UWS announced the iPad giveaway on the day high school graduates in New South Wales learn of their tertiary entrance rank – the score that determines which university courses they will be accepted into – is therefore no coincidence.
Staff will also be given an iPad and will receive the same 16GB model with Retina screen and WiFi handed out to new students.
The reason for the handout is the University’s new “ Blended Learning Strategy to embrace emerging technologies and other modes of learning as a way to complement our face-to-face teaching.”
That strategy will see UWS offer “online lectures, library services and a suite of apps and tools currently in development (including live lecture streaming) which aim to provide [students] with the best possible learning and university experience.”
Just what’s on offer isn’t outlined in the UWS announcement of the fondleslab festival, but blended learning is said to involve “more flexible study options”. It also appears to require academic staff to upskill, with the University saying it “will work with staff and students to embed technology in the curriculum and we will provide staff with professional development opportunities to ensure they are equipped to make the most of the iPad in their teaching.”
WiFi access on the University’s six campuses will be free for those issued with an iPad, who will own the devices. Apple’s standard one-year warranty will apply, but after that students will be on their own.
Current students haven’t been forgotten – they’ll each score a $AUD50 voucher for textbooks. ®
In the UK too, quite a few colleges and universities are doing [or considering] this kind of thing now. Since education has become just another commodity, it can make economic sense:
Slap the cost of supplying the new iPad onto the course fees and then offer all new students a "free" shiny-shiny when they enrol. Since most students think of their student loans in a similar way to how Jeremy Kyle Show guests think of their credt cards [ie. free money that will magically pay itself back at some point in the future], it's a pretty good tactic.
At my own college, a year ago, there was talk of bumping up course fees by £500, so we could entice new students in with promises of a "free" college trip to somewhere nice in Europe.
Oh Lord, another costly and doomed attempt to push 'technology' into the classroom, as if that'll somehow transform education (yes, I get the cynical bribe bit as well). If a technology is useful for education, it'll just get adopted. The most important technology for teachers and the one that transformed teaching is practically invisible (like all truly successful technologies): the photocopier.
The purpose of this "flexible learning environment" plan is to reduce staff (who are contractors, almost no tenure at UWS and UTS) contact hours. You're essentially being enrolled at an "on premises online diploma mill."
Re: Are iPads the real story?
The point being made is that the technology should be device agnostic. Students shouldn't be obliged to use the most expensive brand of device to access their course materials.
"WiFi access on the University’s six campuses will be free for those issued with an iPad"
Does this mean non-iPad users have to pay for WiFi?
What kind of cheapskate Uni doesn't provide free WiFi for all its students, staff and visitors?